Advocates of repealing Maryland’s death penalty hope New Jersey’s landmark decision to end capital punishment will provide momentum heading into next month’s legislative session, the Washington Post reports. Interviews with key lawmakers suggest that a permanent repeal during the 90-day session remains a long shot. A bid to replace Maryland’s death penalty with life without parole failed by a single vote in a Senate committee during the last regular session, despite high-profile support from Gov. Martin O’Malley. “The burden of proof on changing the law is on those who want the law changed, and I’ve not yet been convinced to vote for a full repeal,” said Sen. Alex Mooney, considered the swing vote on the committee last session.
Maryland has had an effective moratorium on capital punishment since last December, when the Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court, ruled that the state’s procedures for lethal injections had not been properly adopted. Five prisoners sit on Maryland’s death row. For executions to resume, the O’Malley administration must issue new regulations — a step the governor has resisted.